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Are crash-test dummies an accurate reflection of ‘average?’

On behalf of of Frederick & Hagle posted in Car Accidents on Thursday, January 24, 2013.

Everyday families across the nation are torn apart when a loved one is killed in a car accident. Fatal crashes happen here in Champaign and across the rest of Illinois. Unfortunately, none of us are immune from the statistics. While there are methods available for families to seek remuneration following the death of a loved one, the ideal situation is for the loved one to never die. In an effort to keep more individuals safe, new model vehicles are safety tested each year to make sure that they are up to standards.

However, are these crash tests an accurate reflection of what would happen in the event of a real-life impact? The crash-test dummies that are used may not be entirely reflective of our population any more. Our nation has seen an increasing trend in obesity. Presently, more than 1 in 3 adults around the United States, including here in Illinois, are obese.

Adults in Illinois that are obese are at an elevated risk for additional complicating health factors, but new research suggests that obese adults could also be at an elevated risk when it comes to crash safety as well. Because the safety testing for new model cars uses crash-test dummies that are “normal sized adults,” safety accommodations are not made to protect adults of a larger size.

According to some safety researchers, seatbelts do not protect obese individuals in the same manner as non-obese individuals because the increased amount of soft tissue mitigates some of the restraint benefits. Unfortunately, this manifests itself in obese individuals dying on impact more often than non-obese individuals that are involved in car accidents. The numbers are staggering. Those that are classified as being among the most obese are 80 percent more likely to die when in an auto accident.

Some safety experts feel that this is an issue that we cannot ignore. Some urge manufacturers to consider that across the country, the new “normal” may be skewed bigger than current safety features accommodate. Considering this may serve to increase the safety of more drivers.

Source: CBS News, “Obese drivers more likely to die in car accidents, study finds,” Michelle Castillo, Jan. 22, 2013

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